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Only 36% of Americans Express Confidence in Public School Systems

A new Gallup survey shows that the majority of Americans are not confident in the public schooling system. Only thirty-six percent of Americans expressed a ‘great deal’ or ‘quite a lot’ of confidence in public schools. This is however,  the largest number who are fairly confident in public schools since 2009.

Graph 1

The survey also found that both Democrats and Republicans are now more confident in public schools than in years previous. According to the Gallup survey:

The upswing in confidence in public schools from 2016 to 2017 is evident among both Republicans (up nine points) and Democrats (up five points). The tendency for Democrats to be more confident than Republicans in public schools has been generally constant over the past nine years, and is evident this year, with 41% of Democrats and 30% of Republicans confident in public schools.

Graph 2

The survey shows that the lowest point of confidence in the public school system was in 2014, when roughly one in four Americans, or twenty six percent. In 1987, fifty percent of Americans were confident in the education that the public schools provided their children.

Gallup has been measuring confidence in public schools since 1987. The survey notes:

From 1995 through 2006, the confidence rating for public schools remained fairly stable, hovering near 40%. From 2007 to 2014, with the exception of a significant bump in 2009 — the year that many states committed to the development of the Common Core State Standards — and a smaller uptick in 2013, confidence declined incrementally.

Public schools in the United States have certainly struggled to maintain confidence but this six point surge from 2016 to 2017 is evidence of the possible beginning of a positive trend. One factor that may be helping to boost confidence in America’s public school system is an all time high of graduation rates. The dropout rates are also seeing a decline.

Gallup research also shows that public school leaders are likewise optimistic about their school systems.

A recent poll of U.S. superintendents shows a significant majority (85%) are excited about their district’s future. However, there is clearly more work to be done to improve the quality of education and how it is perceived. Just 32% of these school leaders say they are excited about the future of U.S. education generally — a percentage that aligns closely with the 36% of Americans expressing confidence in the nation’s public schools.


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